Where In The Universe #44

Article written: 25 Feb , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

This week’s WITU Challenge image was sent in by a faithful reader of Universe Today who frequents the comment section as NeoGuru. I’ll not give any hints as to where NeoGuru got the image, or what it is, or whether this image can be found anywhere else on the web (for those of you that like to search online for the image and link the answer!). You’ll have to wait until tomorrow (Thursday) for the answer to be revealed for this week’s Challenge.

UPDATE: The answer has now been posted below — don’t peek before you make your guess!

To see a sight like this, you don’t have to look up, but look within…within the Earth, that is. These are glowworms found in the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand. The caves and these creatures look amazing! These worms light up to attract insects for food. They glow from bioluminescence which is a chemical reaction between a chemical they produce called luciferin, and air. The chemical reaction gives off light. Way cool!

Thanks to UT reader NeoGuru for sharing the picture and info for this week’s WITU Challenge. Check back next week to try your hand at a new Challenge.

40 Responses

  1. Sofia says

    What kind of objects are these ? It’ s a puzzle…

  2. Michael says

    Somewhere underwater on Earth.

  3. Michael says

    Wait, no! Underwater, or in a cave.

    Definitely Earth though.

  4. Jorge says

    Earth, definitely. As to what exactly this is, well, it reminds me of ice, probably in a cave. It could also be underwater, although they had to be very clear waters. The green is almost certainly bioluminescence.

  5. robbi says

    It looks like the effects of freezing rain,however, it apprears there are ‘spikes’ coming from the center of the lights. This could be in an interesting care.

  6. Procyan says

    I think those are New Zealand glowworms. @ Waitomo caves probably. Brilliant idea!

  7. cccg says

    hi all

    i’m back from Ian’s post about gaming

    so please forgive the following gamer suggestion :

    could this be a virtual world, it looks like a concept art from half life2

    anyway I agree, it certainly looks like it is a cave, I clearly see rocks too

  8. robbi says

    Procyan- it appears you are closest to the correct cause, it is an interesting cave!!

  9. jeremy t says

    totally glow worms in a cave.

  10. andrew s says

    looks like the underside of a glacier

  11. Astrofiend says

    David Attenborough – Life in the undergrowth (ep 3 – the silk spinners). These are the famous glow worms of the caves in New Zealand.

    They use these sticky, luminescent lines to attract mosquitoes etc. hatching out of the water to feed on.

  12. LaF says


    New Zeland (perhaps Waitomo’s cave), where live “glowworms” ( emitting luminencent light to catch their prey)
    More here :

  13. maudyfish says

    Looks like what Mar’s caves like.

  14. bse5150 says

    I’m guessing that these are high in the atmosphere but I can’t think of the name – they are some kind of lightning.

  15. Max says

    Defiantly glow worms.
    Eerily pretty tho… from a distance.

  16. RetardedFishFrog says

    It’s NeoGuru’s outdoor Christmas decorations after an ice storm.

  17. bse5150 says

    Lightning, glow worms – same thing. Either way, I’m right. Feel free to pony up my prize as soon as you can. Next question!

  18. Skivee says

    I’m voting with the cave glow-worn block.

  19. Skivee says

    Glow-WORN???? D’oh, glow-worMMMMM.

  20. oz says

    glow worms in caves. Great Planet Earth segment on these. the disc is “caves” i believe. i love science and nature.

  21. alfamonaro says

    Looks like gooey stickie glow worms in a cave somewhere. I’d like to know what spacecraft took that pic!

  22. Spoodle58 says

    Saw this in Life in the Undegrowth

    Waitomo Glowworm Caves
    North Island New Zealand

  23. Spoodle58 says

    In it David Attenborough says something like that isn’t the night sky behind me, then goes on to talk about the glow worms using there lures to catch mayflies and the like.

    Would love to see the caves it in the flesh.

  24. Ionguy says

    The Pleiades as seen by a smear artist. Substitute the wispy nebula of Alcyone with dripping sugar frosting.

  25. Dan Tillmanns says

    What kind of space craft could take this pix? Rowboat?
    Based on what others said, I quickly blundered into the image.

  26. neoguru says

    NOBODY’s gonna guess this one I tell ya! Guaranteed to fool everyone. Yes?

  27. Rafael says

    Moon Io from Galileo

  28. Al says

    Kinda looks like those sprites over the thunderclouds in Kansas.

  29. John M. says

    There are also glow worms in Hazard cave in Pickett State Park in Tennessee. It’s like the only other place in the world they have them and it’s a big mystery why their seperated by such a distance.

  30. Tom says

    My first thought was the Pleiades, but they appear to be melting!

  31. Pacificus says

    Fireworks that exploded in a cloud, falling through the bottom of the cloud layer?

  32. Taunide says

    Neutrino Telescope in the Antarctica, Craft “Jason” or “Alvin”…

  33. naia says

    Perhaps it is the propagation of those jelly things in salt or brine water, possibly from underneath. Shot by some whale-annihilating sonar subarine.

  34. Alejandro A. says

    Glow worms; from a segment on the “Planet Earth” episode on caves.

  35. Eduardo says

    ¿Sabes Nancy? me recordó aque proverbio que dice que lo de arriba es como lo de abajo… ¿no se te parecen a los famosos sprits de la alta atmósfera?

    gracias por otro hermoso pedazo de universo, se te aprecia…

  36. Yes, Eduardo– sometimes above is as below! (looks similar to the “sprites” in a previous article)

  37. bse5150 says

    I was right! I said Gloworms and lightning. So I win. The rest of you can try again. You can back the truck up to my house and have your guys unload the thousands in cash and prizes right into my garage. I’ll take it from there.
    Next contest!

  38. robbi says

    bse5150- Sorry, Procyan is the real winner.

  39. Daren Scot Wilson says

    My first thought was: ooh, that’s pretty! Then my very closely following second thought was: this reminds me of a scene in Hayao Miyazaki’s animation “Castle in the Sky”. So i guessed a cave, correctly, thanks to my Japanese friends!

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